Friday, September 18, 2015

America's New Deal Navy: Destroyers USS Mahan and USS Cummings

Above: The PWA provided funds for the construction of the U.S.S. Mahan (DD-364), shown here in 1936. The Mahan participated in many battles in the Pacific, shot down numerous aircraft, and earned five battle stars. In late 1944 she was destroyed by a Japanese air attack. Photo courtesy of the Naval Historical Center and

Above: Another PWA-funded destroyer was the U.S.S. Cummings (DD-365), shown here in the late 1930s. The Cummings survived the attack on Pearl Harbor and went on to earn seven battle stars during the war. On August 12, 1944, at Puget Sound Navy Yard, President Roosevelt addressed the nation from the deck of the Cummings, saying "I cannot tell you, if I knew, when the war will be over...It will be over sooner if the people of this country will maintain the making of the necessary supplies of ships and planes and all the things that go with them. By so doing we shall hasten the day of the peace." Photo courtesy of the U.S. Naval Historical Center and  

The Mahan and Cummings could travel at 40+ knots, had twelve 21-inch torpedo tubes, five 5-inch guns, and anti-aircraft weapons.    

Sources of information: (1) Federal Works Agency, Millions for Defense, Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1940. (2) "Executive Order 6174 on Public Works Administration, June 16, 1933," American Presidency Project, University of California - Santa Barbara. (3) Naval History and Heritage Command ( (4) "Brooklyn Navy Yard History: The New Deal Yard, 1933-1937, Part 2," Columbia University. This article lists all 32 PWA-funded ships, citing: "'Ships Under NIRA,' in Letter, Inspector of Naval Material (H.I. Thompson), to Commandants (of navy yards), (and others), 20 September 1933; RG181; National Archives - New York."

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